SurlyFest | Surly Brewing Company

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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: Märzen / Oktoberfest

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed with three different types of Rye and a single variety of American Hops. Malted Rye, Flaked Rye, and Crystal Rye impart a distinctive biscuit flavor to the lush Vienna Malt body, and dry-hopping with Sterling Hops adds bright, floral hop aromas.

Added by feloniousmonk on 09-03-2006

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Reviews: 377 | Ratings: 907
Photo of jaxon53
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I can't remember who sent me this, so thankyou to whoever it was. Served this one chilled, in an Imperial pint glass, from a sixteen ounce can. Another craft beer in a can.

Appearance: Pours out a deep, slightly hazy, amber copper color. A bit of a rough pour yielded a solid finger and a half of soapy off-white head. Decent retention here, leaving plenty of sticky lace clinging to the glass.

Smell: Hops! A somewhat strong hop aroma mixed with some thick yeasty notes. Almost lemony and grassy. The rye and malted barley stand out nicely. A faint fruity aroma closes out the nose with a bit more hops.

Taste: Wow, lots of piney hops out front. Tons of lemon and orange zest. Nice thick rye flavor. Bready and yeasty. Finishes spicey and dry. Different, but in a good way.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied mouthfeel with plenty of tingly carbonation. Crisp and clean.

Drinkability: Great drinkability. A bit on the sweet side, but easy to drink. Quite refreshing.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber iced tea color with a full finger foamy off white head that fades fairly quickly and leaves a good amount of lacing behind. The smell is bright with lemon notes and a delicate rye malty underpinning. Adequately carbonated, the mouth feel is light yet complex. The rye and lager yeast combination create a really unique flavor. Bright with a more pronounced bitterness than my previous samples of products with rye. Altogether refreshing, a real session beer at 5.5% ABV. Recommended.

Thanks goes out to Pitmonkey for the opportunity to sample this one.

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Photo of knight84
4.06/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to alexgash for this can!
Pours a fairly hazy dark copper to amber color. One finger creamy off-white head that thins quickly leaving moderate lacing. The nose is understated, piney hops and yeast dominate but I get some floral esters as well. The taste comes as a bit of a surprise as it tastes more like an IPA than a lager, the rye is big up front and the finish is caramel malts and herbal hop flavors with a bit more pine though a little dusty and dry. Mouthfeel is nice, very smooth with a creamy carbonation that matches the head seen when poured. When very cold the feel is light and dry with some bite that moderates by the end of the glass. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and found it very drinkable, especially being a rye lager, this is probably due to the IPAish character that it seemed to have. Another solid and enjoyable beer from Surly.

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Photo of JDV
3.87/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of trade with tytoanderso
Pours a gorgeous autumnal amber color with a big sudsy lace inducing head. Smell is fresh and vibrant and wow, there are actually big fresh hops in this oktoberfest! Smell is hoppy, yet apples and sweet malt as well. Amazing for a style I usually find pretty average. Taste is nice, and mildish aside from a decent dose of grassy hopping and a nice bitterness level. Easy on the malt, and not a sweet or tart oktoberfest like I'm used to but more mildly sharp and zesty, perhaps from the Crystal Rye. A touch on the thin side palatewise, although the carbonation is spot on. A great, unique oktoberfest although I would actually like a hint more sweetness here. Big thanks for the can, Tyler!

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Photo of HopDerek
4.09/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber/bronze color with lots of thick foamy off-white head, good retention and great lacing. Takes a while to pour it all in the stein with all that head pouring out of the can. Smells quite hoppy for an Oktoberfest with amarillo hops taking a commanding presence, as well as some honey, lemon, and caramel. Taste is also way different than I would expect, with rye jumping right out at you followed by some honey sweetness and a touch of lemon citrusiness. A nice sweet toffee backbone with a big ole piney hop finish. Medium in body, smooth and creamy with a dry finish. An unexpecting beer, but very drinkable and something I wouldn't mind drinking often in the Fall (or any other season).

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Photo of Kegatron
4.07/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Procurred in a recent trade with Scoobydank. Thanks Bill!

16oz can into a Stein.

Pours a clear amber with a a huge foamy light tan head. It takes me several minutes to get it all into the Stein. It eventually settles down into a fairly nice sized retention that leaves huge sticky hop lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma seems to be a big blast of Amarillo hops right off the bat, with some citrus notes, caramel sweetness, and a bready Rye element.

The taste is piney hops up front, caramel and rye malts, citrus, and a pleasant lingering bitterness in the finish. The overall flavor profile feels just a tad muted and makes me wonder what a fresh can would be like. The mouthfeel is medium bodied wiht a smooth, creamy feel.

Whether or not you call this an Oktoberfest Marzen, an interpretation of a Marzen, or just some strange abortion of the style, I think that is damn tasty for what it is and would keep this in my fridge full time during the fall months if I had access to it.

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Photo of jwc215
4.54/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Wasatch for including this in a trade!

Pours hazed orange/amber with a thin off-white head that lasts.

The smell is of a heaping of lemony, piney hops with some grainy malt. Amazing aroma. Aromatic hops with enough malt to keep it complex and deep.

The taste of juicy citric/lemony and piney hops blend very well with a firm malt base. Finishes refreshingly dry.

It has a juicy medium body.

Oh - is this drinkable...a wonderful hoppy, yet balanced brew. Very creative/unique!

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Photo of brewgetter
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - The beer pours a light brown with some orange highlights, slight haze

S - I get grapefruit, pine, and lemon. nice.

T - Rye is certainly there, slight maltiness is nicely balanced by huge hops. The can is probably a good 4 or 5 months old, not sure if that would play a factor or not. Not as good as Furious, but still a great beer! can't wait to see what comes out next year!

M - medium body, seems sppropriate for the style, and very good for a lager.

D - Quite drinkable, Don't know if I could drink two in a row...I probably could though:)

Since I'm a confirmed Surly Nut. I love the twist that they've brought to an O-fest, certainly one of the best lagers I've ever had.

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Photo of Bighuge
1.66/5  rDev -58.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

This beer is a bit of a conundrum. I'm not sure if anybody has touched on this yet, but this beer tastes nothing like a marzen. It's more like an IPA or actually more like a DIPA. The blue and white checkerboard background on the can reminds me of a German Oktoberfest banner (like the ones in "Strange Brew" eh?). But the beer inside is not even in the same ballpark. I understand it's a lager, but this has to be the most hopped up lager I've ever tried. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Well actually, in this case there is.

Hazy, tarnished copper. Thin coating of beige head. Lace is moderate in amount. Sickly pungent pine needle aroma. It's like smelling the gooey sap straight out of a pine tree. And then licking it. The flavor is all hops. And in truth, these hops don't appeal to me. My belief is that they're 100% Sterling. If that's the case, Sterling is one hop I'll avoid when homebrewing. I get garlic and onion and clove. And an astringent tannic presence that muddles everything up as well. Ouch. This is not good. And my ratings are not due to the nonconforming style. I rated this as if it were an IPA/DIPA/Rye lager.

This is the first beer from Surly that I have not enjoyed. I see others have, so drink up. But I will pass on this next fall. Unless they try a new hop, like Columbus or Palisade or Simcoe. My opinion is that Furious is 10 times better than this.

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Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Ultra-hazy amber, almost opaque. The head retention is great.

Smell - The hop aroma is huge and immediately noticeable upon cracking open the can. It lends a ripe, zesty grapefruit character to the nose, with a slight bready note from the rye present underneath.

Taste and mouthfeel - The taste is quite a contrast from the aroma. Very up-front rye, bready and dry. A touch of malty sweetness appears briefly, providing a touch of balance before the tangy, citrus-flavored hops take over the finish. Mouthfeel is decidedly full for a lager, with a coating hoppy bitterness remaining on the palate.

Notes - Never thought I'd try a dry-hopped rye Octoberfest lager. Very creative stuff, and more importantly, quite good.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to Tolann for this brew.

Pours a nice hazy golden brown color, nice carbonation, very nice one-finger plus off-white creamy head, which leaves some nice sticky lacing throughout the drink. The nose is malty, hoppy, nice touch of the rye (bitter), and some caramel. The taste is malty/hoppy, nice touch of rye (bitterness), and some caramel. Medium body. This brew is pretty dry and bitter on the finish, very tasty though. Very drinkable, really like this one, highly recommended. Thanks Megan.

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Photo of Tolann
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this hidden in my stash. Poured my 'half' into a whisky snifter and shared the rest with DH who had his poured into a pint glass.

A- a white light head on top of amber waves of grain...
Leaves a thick,heavy lacing on the glass.

S- sweet and almost minty. What did DH use to rinse this glass,toothpaste? Sweet and kinda citrusy

T- kind of sweet, tho I rarely drink lagers. Kinda dead on taste considering other Surlys. Probably a good shot at a non-traditional Oktober-fest lager. Surly does nothing 'traditionally'

M- light but not crisp. Almost a medium body. Lots of malt and citrus

D- Very easy to put back. Could be a very sessionable beer if it were more available.

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Photo of Scoobydank
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

L:A very light brown color. A birght white frothy head.
S:Slight grapefruit hoppiness with big caramel sweetness.
T:Big roasted nutty caramel. What sets this one aside though is what comes next. Deciscious grapefruit hop on the back palat.
M:Thick big round bubbles for a syrupy consistency.
D:Best example of a Octoberfest beer that I can think of. Definitely a Surly twist using those hops to round out this beer. I wish more Octoberfest beers used hops like this.

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Photo of flexabull
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Great looking can courtesy of leftmindedrighty, thanks YET again!

Pours a bright gold color with a big off white head. Looks great.

Nice nose, creamy malts, tea like, with some really obvious hop aromas, mostly resin and pine. Smells great.

Taste is dry and biscuit like. Some cereal grain flavors, bright and crisp tea like qualities, and a hint of rye. Finish is biting, with an earthy like hoppiness and some spicy yeast flavors. This is a complex tasting beer.

Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, very nice.

Drinkability is great, this is extremely sessionable. A very interesting and tasty take on the Oktoberfest / Rye Beer styles. I really like it, and would make this a staple in the fridge and "in" the outdoors if this was available here. Well worth a try.

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Photo of BeerTruth
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another amazing beer courtesy of tpd975, thanks for hookin' me up!

16 oz. can poured perfectly into a nonic.

Pours a somewhat foggy rich copper hue with a generous two finger off-white head that has no intentions of leaving. Beautiful lacing left behind on the sides of the glass. Smell is of crisp rye up front with a subtle fresh citric hop scent. Nice caramel malt with a bit of a metallic aroma as well. Some dirty earth hops find their way in the nose too. Wow, what a perfect blend of hops and malt on the tongue. Sweet grapefruit hops balance with a creamy caramel malt. The crisp rye gives a fresh zing in the mouth. A spicy pepper sting finds it's way in the mouth as well. Aftertaste is an interesting combination of toasted nut and pine hops, niiice. Fluffy light to medium body with a full carbonation. This doesn't exactly fit into the "traditional" fest beers, but that's why I like it. Definitely a nice change of pace during the Oktoberfest season, especially for hop lovers. Line 'em up, I'll put 'em down...scary good drinkability. What a great beer experience. I would take this beer over Furious anyday.

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Photo of timbro81
4.32/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big props must go out to PitMonkey on this one. Pours a glorious deep amber orange that has almost perfect clarity. Head is of the standard varity, one finger, fluffy, fades in a few minutes. The rye grains dominate the nose with the hops coming in at a close second. Good dose of dry hopping. Its hard to tell if I'm picking up a metallic smell or if it is the rye grains that I am not used to, either way it doesn't distract from the overall sensation. The taste has a great complexity. Again with the rye and the hops and a clean smooth mouthfeel. A superb interpratation of a hop heads Oktoberfest. Drink this beer.

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Photo of Lothore
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a deep orange hue with a small but sustainable eggshell head.

S- Smells of fragrant hops, malty sweetness.

T- Taste is incredible. Spicy, malty, nutty, typical oktoberfest beer on steroids.

M- Medium viscosity, light on the carbonation.

D- This is extremely drinkable. I could easily drink these until I passed out from the alcohol and deliciousness.

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Photo of alexgash
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful blue and white checkered, 16-oz. can. Deep gold-edged copper body with a clingy, tight, centimeter of light khaki head. Fresh, fragrant, floral and resinous hop nose with a solid malt backing (spice cake, caramel, and bread). Toasted malt and noble hop bitterness festively greet the tongue. Flash of caramel and spicy (rye?) cookie dough with cooked veggie undertones. Herbal, noble, resinous hop bitterness comes on strong in the finish and lasts a delicious while. Tastes like a rye-infused, hoppy Ofest to me! Medium body with lively, even carbonation. Another great Surly brew.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Despite being around for a couple years, I still can't quite help getting a kick out of it every time I pop the tab of a canned craft-brew. The beer pours with a lightly hazy, reddish amber color and is topped by a frothy, initially two-finger thick, light tan colored, textured head that is creamy enough to leave a layered lacing pattern on the sides of my glass as I slowly consume the beer. Spicy notes of grain and hop mix wonderfully in the aroma; slightly grassy, definite earthy rye spice aromatics as well as an herbal, candied lemon zest & currant hop character. Toasty malt notes and a touch of caramelized grain sugars enter in towards the finished spurring the imagination towards thoughts of brown sugar crusted, marmalade coated, toasted, organic, artisinal bread that has been crushed into an aromatic powder. Quite an interesting aroma; very enticing, entirely engaging and hearty enough to be a harvest time tipple.

Well carbonated, which combines with a sharp hop character that is both herb focused and lemon zest like. Grassy hop notes combine with a soft, yet gripping, bitterness in the finish. The rye does not add a whole lot to the flavor, but does seem to contribute a grassy slightly spicy note that lingers long after a sip has past down my throat. The rye does seem to contribute to the body of the brew as this has a definite viscous heft to it without being cloying. Grassy flavors, touches of currants and a certain menthol like note all seem to be part of the hop profile.

The grassy hop character seems to grow a bit as the beer warms up a bit, coupled with a sort of pine / menthol note (but not in the typical American hop way), this becomes the dominant, though not quite defining, characteristic of this brew. If you hadn't guessed this really is quite hoppy, definitely a hop dominated brew; sort of like a cross between an IPA and a malty Oktoberfest. Quite tasty, a really enjoyable brew and I am glad they did not brew another typical Oktoberfest (while I do enjoy a well crafted traditional one, truly great ones are few and far between). Perhaps my only complaint is that the hops get in the way of really noticing the rye character.

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Photo of Imstillthegman
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I am enjoying this can courtesy of Leftmindedrighty. He brought it to my house for a recent tasting and we never got to it. But now I did. ;-)

Pours a slightly cloudy amber color with a nice off-white head. Loads of lacing on the glass. Just how I like it.

The aroma is a nice blend of hops and rye. A little sweet, a little grassy, a little roasty.

The flavor is heads above pretty much any rye beer I have ever had. Sweet roasted rye, citric hops, caramel, a bit nutty. Very tasty. I never would have made it home if my local Oktoberfest had this one.

Solid feel to it. Medium body. Extremely drinkable. Goes down easy....and fast. I truly believe Surly needs to have an East Coast brewery contract brew for them. Dogfish Head, perhaps? Man, that would be freakin' awesome. Another fabulous beer from Surly.

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Photo of Graham21
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice bubbly frothy tan head 2 mm thick. Amber in appearance with sediment lingereing. Smells very hoppy, small amounts of bready yeast. Pretty hoppy for an Oktoberfest, grapefruit comes through slightly. SurlyFest is better than average but not amazing. Body is dry and lacking.

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Photo of tpd975
4.53/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Let me get ahead of myself here. Best damn Octoberfest brew in the world. Period...Point Blank.

Moving On!

A: Pours a beautiful amber color with a big puffy head. Lots of carbonation and beautiful layers of lacing.

S: Big and bold malty sweetness. Tons of caramel, hazelnut toffee, and hops. Holy shit I smell hops. Is this really an Oktoberfest brew? Citrus, check, Pine, check. Oh god I can't wait to taste.

T: Yep. Surly rules. This beer alone is reason enough for BA to name them brewery of the year. This is your typical Oktoberfest brew on steroids. The malty sweetness is there right from the start. Tons of nutty caramel sweetness that alone would be the makings of a great brew. But wait! This is Surly, and we all know that they don't settle for great. They hopped the hell out of this one to put it on the next level. Pine and grapefruit can both be noted. I have never loved Oktoberfest soooo much.

M: Nice and medium bodied. Soo drinkable. I loved this brew.

D: Can after can I could pound this one.

Overall: Ever since objectivemonkey sent over the Surly brews I have been getting Surly. I have to admit that I saved this one for last as I tend to lean toward the hoppy brews. Being a fest beer I expected pure malt. I have never been so wrong in my life. They have taken an Oktoberfest brew and made it sooo much more. Hops and malts are both noted in pure balance. I profess there is not a greater fest brew in the world. Surly could hang their hat on this one. Yet there are sooo many others. Furious, Bender, Cynic, and dare I say DARKNESS. I see why BA voted them best. Break out the parkas honey I want to move to Minnesota!

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Photo of ncvbc
4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A beautiful amber in color with good carbonation and thick lacing down the glass. Smell is super fresh hops mixed with a sweet malt and spicy rye. Taste is much of the same. Definitely overly hopped for the style but I love it as a hop head. Somewhat of a floral hop character and the rye is definitely adding some spice to the mix. Somewhat of a bready sweet malt flavor in the middle. Slightly dry to finish I said, hoppy. Mouthfeel is nice with a slight tingle from the carbonation. Some bitterness and a little oily texture on the tongue. I could drink this all day. In fact, I regret only having this one. Might have to seek it out again before it's too late...

Thanks, tayner!

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Photo of ryantupy
4.85/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16oz can. "beer in a can for a stein"
Pours a nice hazy amber color with a nice tan frothy head. Smells of hops with notes of citrus and a nice sweet malty backdrop. Its tastes great! Nice a hoppy with a great citrus sweet malt character. This is a great medium bodied beer that has a ncie carbonation level to balance out the flavors. Great beer

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Photo of kenito799
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can poured into a pilsener glass. Thanks to tizzod for the midwest beer fest Thankgiving 2007!

Pours a lovely clear medium amber, small head raised and recedes to a ring.

Wonderful citrus and pine hop aromas waft forth, immediately this brew declares itself as not your usual Oktoberfest. Crisp and highly carbonated, tangy and delicious. The tart and complex hop flavors really dominate here, to delicious although style-clashing effect. The malt definitely keeps to the background--or rather, the dry and tangy rye malt is th emajor player. The effect is a delicious, highly drinkable, crisp, dry ale with a long bitter, flavorful finish. I love it, whatever it is.

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SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
4.03 out of 5 based on 907 ratings.
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